Professional Blog Posts
2011: The Year of 2D Coding for DEM CEO Gary Brewer
It has been predicted that 2011 will be the breakout year for mobile marketing. With apps available for phones like the Android and BlackBerry, and with more than 350,000 available iPhone apps, it only makes sense to market directly to these devices.
Specifically, 2011 is being predicated as the breakout year for 2D coding. Although the technology was invented in Japan in 1994, it has just recently been updated and applied to mobile phone applications, making it easier to use on both the consumer side, as well as the business side.
Microsoft Tags is leading the way in 2D barcodes that are customizable, easy to use and free. Businesses can create a Tag that links to their webpage, or other online resources, and can attach the Tags to posters, flyers, marketing materials…the list goes on and on. People can then scan the Tag directly from their phone which will instantly direct the user to the destination businesses set their Tag to go to.
While 2D coding is great for large businesses like USA Today who added a Tag to their newspaper that takes readers directly to their online version, or Allure Magazine’s annual Free Stuff Giveaway that enlisted 444,572 barcode scans, the largest barcode campaign to-date, I think 2D coding can be just as beneficial, if not more, to small businesses.
Small businesses can add Tags to their ads in local publications, flyers left at other businesses, or business cards handed out to potential contacts. With 2D coding technology, businesses are no longer at the mercy of someone remembering to pull out their card or flyer and enter their long URL, but can access information online instantly. Microsoft Tag also provides businesses with advanced analytics to measure campaign effectiveness with enhanced reporting, such as the number of scans of a particular Tag over time and by geographic location. Whether you’re a photographer with a Tag linking to your online portfolio or a restaurant with a Tag offering a discount, EVERYONE should take advantage of 2D coding.
One last piece of advice: Though it may be its breakout year, 2D coding is still widely unknown to consumers. Be sure to add a quick line of copy explaining what it is and where they can download the code reader.
It’s only February, so join the 2011 mobile marketing bandwagon with 2D coding, and look for more ways to integrate mobile marketing into your 2011 strategy in the very near future.
The Power of Foursquare for Digital Eye Media
There has never been a better time than now to track what your friends are doing, where they are going, and what they are interested in. Between Facebook posts, Twitter feeds, and Linkedin profiles, you can know more about a person with a few clicks of a mouse than years of friendly interaction, but the latest social networking fad is taking tracking to a whole new level.
Foursquare, a “location-based mobile platform,” gives users the opportunity to “check in” at their destinations via a smartphone app or SMS, allowing users to share their location with others while collecting points and virtual badges. Users can link these “check ins” as posts on Facebook for friends to see where users are and what they’re doing in real-time. While this is a great tool for users to show people where they’re dining, shopping, and playing, it is also a great tool for businesses to attract new customers with foursquare promotions, specials, and tracking capabilities.
Foursquare was conceived at a kitchen table in the fall of 2008 and officially launched in March of 2009. It has 6.5 million users worldwide, with tens of thousands of merchants utilizing foursquare’s free tools and special offers. Foursquare’s Merchant Platform was created to fit every business’s needs and provides specials designed to attract new customers, as well as reward existing, loyal ones.
Using foursquare’s Merchant Platform is free, and not only gives businesses the chance to run promotions and specials, but also gives them the opportunity to see real-time data including, total daily check-ins over time, most recent visitors, most frequent visitors, gender breakdown of customers, and what time of day people check in. This Merchant Platform can provide smaller businesses a chance to track and collect data, giving them better information to make important decisions about their business.
Foursquare may be the newest, fun way for users to inform friends of their every move, but it is also the newest, most efficient way for businesses to track data, offer promotions, and reward loyal customers. Just as search engine optimization has become vital to tracking virtual traffic, foursquare is on its way to becoming vital to tracking actual, real life traffic.
The Pros and Cons of Group Buying for CEO Gary Brewer
In November 2008, the concept of group, or collective buying on the Internet experienced a revolutionary takeoff due to the site Groupon.com. It was only a matter of time before other sites emerged, Livingsocial.com being its biggest competitor, and now, there are hundreds of sites offering unbeatable deals.
As a consumer, there’s little risk or reason not to participate. Buy the deal for a fraction of the price, and when ready, redeem it. The only downfall is that they do eventually expire, and some, especially the exercise deals, will go unused. Beyond that, group buying is safe and extremely beneficial to consumers looking to save money, as well as people looking for new things to do and new places to try.
The real risk comes on the business’s side. A business offers a service or a product at a fraction of the price, usually at least more than 50 percent off. For example, “Pay $10.00 and get $20.00 of food” at a local restaurant. The deal is posted on the collective buying website and mass blasted to their enormous email list. Consumers now have a limited amount of time to purchase this deal before it expires. By the end of the deal’s time, “X” amount of people have purchased the deal, and then comes the split with the group buying platform that ran the deal. Many site’s split is as large as 50 percent, so businesses are now giving consumers their product or service at 50 percent off, but only received around 25 percent of the value.
Broken down in this manner, this may not sound like a very good deal for the business, but the upsides are that the business now has a large chuck of cash upfront that may be much needed at this time, as well as the exposure and the goal of generating new business. There are definitely pros to participating in a group buying deal, but many business owners are failing to look at the cons, and ending up with negative, unexpected ramifications. Here is the list of things to consider before participating in a group buying deal:
-Do the math. Figure out the entire equation of how much your product or service actually costs you and how much you are coming out ahead, even, or under after the split with the company. Make sure you are not coming out too far under.
-Assess the amount of deals your business can really handle. Each group buying site will allow you to put a cap on the number you want to offer. If you are a small, one-man show, selling 5,000 deals could be impossible to honor before it expires. Businesses have experienced negative backlash on online review sites and lost future customers because coupon buyers were unable to use their deal due in a timely manner because the business was booked solid. Don’t be greedy.
-Decide which company to partner with. There are literally hundreds of options of which company you can run a group buying deal with. If you are a business that can handle high volume, as well as can handle a larger split, one of the big guys such as Groupon or Livingsocial may be the way to go. Amazon recently ran a nationwide deal for $10.00 for $20.00 of products on its site and sold 1,378,938 vouchers. Amazon can handle this kind of volume, your local hair salon cannot. While these large businesses may look tempting, choosing a local, smaller group buying site has its benefits as well. Working with smaller companies means you’ll have a more personal experience and probably a lot more say in the formatting, copy, and delivery of your deal. For instance, Groupon doesn’t show businesses their coupon copy before it is runs. It may also be a great way to run a lower volume deal. Maybe you’re just looking for a little boost and would be happy with 100 deals sold; the smaller guys are a great place to start. Smaller companies will generally also take a smaller split and leave room to negotiate. If you can’t afford a 50/50 split, working with a local site that could go as low as 70/30 may be a better alternative.
Collective buying is one of the biggest trends in the market right now, especially in an economy where 50-70 percent off deals is much needed and appreciated. But as a business you cannot allow yourself to be sucked in without doing the proper research and consideration. Running a group buying deal could be life changing for your business, but it could also be the final nail in the coffin for a struggling business greedily looking to make some quick cash. Remember these tips when considering a group buying deal and you just might see the positive surge in business that you’ve been needing.
To Tweet or Not to Tweet for Digital Eye Media
With all great advancements, there is always some fallout. For all the good that social media has provided to both small businesses, as well as mega brands, there is still story after story of social media faux pas that have left company’s PR firms scrambling to undo, fix, and apologize for.
Using discretion on what you post on the Internet has been widely written and warned about, yet, people continue to Tweet, blog and Facebook post inappropriate content that lands them in hot water. People know by now, that you should not post things about your job, boss, fellow employees, or clients. But while there will always be people who don’t understand discretion, or will take the idea of free speech too far, there is an issue that appears hard to pin down because of its relativity: humor.
Earlier this month, American Fashion designer, Kenneth Cole, took the riots in Egypt as a shameless way to promote his new spring line:
“Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo -KC”
Needless to say, this did not go over well. Most of Cole’s campaigns seem to titter on the edge, but this one was clearly over the line.
The problem with humor is that it’s relative. If you’ve ever told a joke to one person and got a huge laugh, but then told the same joke to another, only to receive blank stares, you know what we’re talking about. Playing with edgy humor is always risky. Usually, it will either go over very well, or completely bomb. Here are a few things to avoid when playing with edgy humor:
-Avoid making fun or light of large disasters: As seen in the Kenneth Cole example and Groupon’s Superbowl commercials about Tibet, making light of large scale disasters, both recent, or in the past, is more likely than not, going to be viewed as insensitive and shameless.
-Avoid making jokes about race: No business, brand, or person benefits from being considered a racist, and there is no faster way to gain this title than to make race related jokes. Leave this type of humor to the stand-up comedians.
-Avoid monetizing at the expense of others: Back in September when the San Bruno explosion and fire destroyed dozens of homes, killed four people, and left many injured, a local café, Onyx Café, put out a tweet offering a place to come and cool off from the fire with a drink. Anything where people were killed or hurt is not something to joke about and will likely cause backlash and negative attention.
While humor is one of the most effective ways to promote a product, brand or business, it can also be very risky. Keep these tips in mind and you are more likely to have a success like the Old Spice campaign and less likely to experience public ridicule like Kenneth Cole.
Contests for Digital Eye Media
Everyone loves a contest. Everyone loves the chance to be picked out of a group of people and to win something…anything. In the past, people would have to be at a location, fill out a slip of paper with their information and then be present to receive the prize. Today, contests have become easier to both win, as well as put on, and they are a great way to engage customers, build your database and increase your visibility and business.
Contests are easier than ever, and you can utilize the social media platforms you’re already using. Keep in mind that what you’re giving away should be worth people’s time to engage, to always follow up to responses, and to always show a winner. Here is a list of social media sites you’re probably already using and how to implement a contest:
Facebook: You’ve been building your friend or fan base for some time, and now it’s time to cash in. Post your contest on your Facebook wall, and friends/fans will see the post on their newsfeed and can participate. You can post a question, or a challenge. Whatever the prompt, be sure to post something that will encourage conversation. Another Facebook contest idea is to prompt friends/fans to post on your wall and one will be chosen as the winner. This is a great way to get positive feedback on your wall for others to see.
Foursquare: Maybe you’ve run specials or coupons, but have you tried running a contest on foursquare? When users are searching the areas they are interested in going out to, your location will come up as running a contest. Encourage patrons to check in at your location, rewarding a lucky follower who does. You can reward customers with the most badges or the mayor. Fourquare is set up with many options for contests, and the people that use the site, are looking for these types of deals.
Twitter: Just like Facebook, your Twitter account probably already has a base of people following you. Tweet a contest with a prompt and an award and take advantage of a hashtag to promote your business. Incorporate your business’s hashtag into the contest so participants have to re-tweet it, creating more tweets in your category. When future users view your hashtag, they’ll see a large amount of tweets in your category.
Businesses have been using contests for years to gather customer information, promote business and increase sales. Contests are still just as useful but now can be offered from your business’s social media sites for easy accessibility and trackability. Post a contest today and see an increase in your social media traffic, as well as your bottom line.
Advice Column for Dlist Magazine
Store Reviews for Dlist Magazine
September 2008: Gems
Though Seattle is not known for its high fashion, it’s nice to know we have an option: Mario’s. The small sign in the middle of 6th Ave. gives little indication to the superiority and style that lies within. What looks like a small boutique, Mario’s quickly becomes a small department store but with the best of both worlds: a personable, knowledgeable staff, and luxury brands; it’s the perfect combination. Mario’s is by far the best place in Seattle for couture.
Store president Mario Bisio began his work in fashion at a young age working in his father’s shirt shop. He began working as a sales associate when the first Mario’s opened and after college became a full partner, taking on the position of store buyer. In 1975, the store underwent a transformation with a new logo, new packaging, new layout, and a few years later the arrival of Mario’s for Women. But it was in 1982 that the store here in Seattle was opened, and the design was magnificent. With 20,000 square feet, a grand staircase in the center, tall ceilings, and limestone and blonde hardwood, the beauty and class of the store matched the styles and brands that filled it. The design is nothing short of elegant with the best labels in the world.
Previously a male focused shop, Mario’s has an impressive men’s selection with brands like Dolce and Gabbana, Etro, and Brioni. It is also one of three shops nationwide that contains the Tom Ford collection besides Tom Ford retailers. In an effort to reach out to the younger, but stylish crowd, Hugo Boss now takes home in the downstairs men’s department, as well as a remarkable collection of high end jeans, paired with an on hand jean specialist at all times. But what really makes Mario’s stand out from the rest of the men’s boutiques is the “full bespoken” service: meaning suits, shirts, trousers, and shoes, all hand-tailored from start to finish. Men can join the artisan tradition and be a part of every aspect of their wardrobe from fabric choice to lining and pockets; the possibilities are endless. In addition to attire, men can shop for shoes, ties, watches, sunglasses, and even luxury soaps. It’s a great place for thoughtful one of a kind gifts for the man that has everything.
After the arrival of Mario’s Women, it was only natural to open the Seattle store with both men and women selections. One only needs to walk up the grand staircase and choose between high end on one side, and casual on the other, to be greeted with such brands such as Chloe’, Jill Sander, and Stella McCartney which you might not find elsewhere in the city. Like the men’s department, Mario’s contains a high end women’s jeans section with a jean specialist on hand as well. This is a great place to get that little black dress that will last and stay in style forever.
It is no wonder that Mario’s was named one of Harper’s Bazaar’s 100 best specialty stores in America, and that Mario himself was ranked on DNR’s 100 most powerful players in men’s wear, as well as receiving a life time achievement award during July 2008’s Market at the Four Seasons. When looking for the best labels and world class service, Mario’s may very well be the best place to look in the Northwest.
December 2008: Ian
Style Girl for Dlist Magazine